Beta-Carotene and Oral Cancer

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Beta-Carotene and Oral Cancer

Emerging role of beta-carotene and antioxidant nutrients in prevention of oral cancer.

Garewal HS; Schantz S

Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg Feb 1995, 121 (2), p141-4

Beta-carotene, and other antioxidant nutrients such as vitamin E, are well suited for widespread preventive use because they are nontoxic and easily given in supplement form. Intervention trials designed to show a reduction of cancer incidence in the general population are logistically and practically impossible for most types of cancer, including cancer of the oral cavity. Thus, evidence for chemoprevention must be indirect, using laboratory and animal models, epidemiologic surveys, and trials showing reversal of premalignant lesions or cancer prevention in high-risk groups. In several animal models, beta-carotene and other antioxidant nutrients inhibit oral carcinogenesis. Epidemiologic studies consistently relate low intake of these nutrients with high cancer risk. Smokers have lower beta-carotene levels in plasma and oral mucosal cells than nonsmokers.

Eight clinical trials have now shown that beta-carotene and vitamin E produce regression of oral leukoplakia, but chemoprevention studies in oral leukoplakia have limitations. All available evidence supports a significant role for antioxidant nutrients in preventing oral cancer.

Life Extension Foundation.

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By H.S. Garewal and S. Schantz

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